After getting off to a perfect start with a record-breaking win, Indian would look to continue its supremacy over South Africa when the two sides clash in the second Twenty20 International at East London on Friday.
After a 2-1 win in the One-day International series, the Harmanpreet Kaur’s side started the T20s on a confident note, drubbing the hosts by seven wickets after pulling off a stunning chase.
The manner in which the young Indian side came out guns blazing made the loss in the dead rubber third ODI prior to the series look like a rare bad day in office. The visitors overhauled a massive 165-run target with consummate ease, reaching home with seven balls to spare. While chasing, veteran Mithali Raj (54 *) held the Indian innings together and shared two crucial stands – a 69-run partnership for the third wicket with debutant Jemimah Rodrigues (37) and a 52-run unbeaten stand with Veda Krishnamurthy (37*) – to steer her side home.
Mithali’s knock, her 11th T20I half-century, came off 48 deliveries with the help of half a dozen fours and one six. It was however, the 17-year-old Rodrigues who stole the show, hitting four boundaries and a six during her breezy 27-ball knock. Krishnamurthy was at her attacking best and took her side over the line with a huge six over deep mid-wicket.
In-form opener Smriti Mandhana, while missing out somewhat, still got the team off to a solid start with a fluent 28. Skipper Harmanpreet is due a good knock and had owing to a run out.
India’s bowling conundrum
The Indian batting looks in shape but their bowling is a cause of concern in the absence of veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami, who has been ruled out of the series because of a heel injury.
Young fast bowler Pooja Vastrakar (1/34) looked nervous on her debut and plenty of loose deliveries to Dane van Niekerk and Mignon du Preez. Her pace colleague, Shikha Pandey’s (1/41) performance, was a major let-down in the death overs.
In the absence of Jhulan, Pandey would need to shoulder more responsibility upfront. T20 specialist Anuja Patil was the star for India in the last match, claiming 2/23 in her four overs to pin down South Africa’s batting line-up in the middle overs. But, she would definitely need support from the other spinners – Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav and Harmanpreet.
Mithali Raj was impressed with her young teammates, “It’s good to have the youngsters in the squad. Usually when you have a few new members, they get a lot of positive energy into the team and they are quite active on the ground too,” the 34-year-old said.
For South Africa, the key would be not to get bogged down by the setback and build on the positives. Chloe Tryon’s blistering unbeaten 32 from seven balls was a big takeaway from the last match and skipper Van Niekerk is hoping that the team builds on it. “We need to regroup, we need to speak open and honestly with each other and see where we can change stuff. Our fielding wasn’t at its best and we pride ourselves on our fielding,” Niekerk said.
“T20 is so short and the margins are so much smaller, so hopefully we can bounce back in the next few. I’d like to win the next four and go away from this tour smiling.”
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Mithali Raj, Veda Krishnamurthy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Anuja Patil, Taniya Bhatia, Nuzhat Parveen Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (c), Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Sune Luus, Odine Kirsten, Mignon du Preez, Lizelle Lee, Chloe Tryon, Nadine de Klerk, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Moseline Daniels.